I often find people using

"I beg to request you..."

in the letters or applications that they write to their superiors.

I am not sure if this usage of "beg" is okay.

I have tried to find rationale behind adding "beg" with "request". I have been told that "beg" is added with "request" to make the request more humble or polite and sound submissive and to offer adequate respect to the superior.

There is a difference between "request" and "pray". "Request" is formally or politely asking "x" for "y", while "pray" is begging "x" for "y".

If so, then what is the rationale of using "I beg to request you..."? Why do the writers not use a simpler version: "I pray to you..."?

  • 5
    Such use of beg is becoming dated and "over-formal" (and pray has been hopelessly so for over a century). Besides which, beg means the same as request, which means the same as ask. So forms like to beg to request and to pray to ask stand out as tautological. The only possible "rationale" is that you're seeing a lot of unusual usages from non-native speakers - probably in the Far East, where I believe indigenous languages are more likely to include such circumlocutory politeness. Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 13:25
  • It's /I pray you [do something], not pray to, which is about religion. Never heard "beg to request" [you]. Now, there are times when we do say: I begged him to go but he refused. Which is not the antiquated use of beg, which would be: KIndly make less noise, I beg you.
    – Lambie
    Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 13:43
  • 1
    @Lambie: I've been on ELU for over 5 years, and I must have read at least tens of thousands of posts here (incl. comments as well as questions and answers). I'd be prepared to bet that not one of them from a native speaker has used beg, other than facetiously, or in the (again, somewhat dated) "stock phrase" I beg to differ. Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 14:48
  • 1
    Yes, because those writing here are commenting on language. That said, writing found in novels, upscale magazine writing and upscale newswriting (The Guardian or The Atlantic Monthly, for example), one could very easily come across descriptions of what people have said where authors used the verb to beg in reported speech. Allow me to make up a couple examples: "The political situation was begging for reform".//"Please come ouf of there at once", John begged. //Obviously, in direct speech it is not used so much. I can imagine a situation where I might say: "Just don't do. I'm begging you".
    – Lambie
    Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 16:23

1 Answer 1


Answering only your question... It is considered antiquated or overly-formal by most people. It may also be taken in an ironic sense.

Word Origin of Pray from OALD

Middle English (in the sense ‘ask earnestly’): from Old French preier, from late Latin precare, alteration of Latin precari ‘entreat’.

e.g "Pray, continue."

On the other hand, it may be perfectly acceptable to use "beg to request" in India. Usage depends on the context and environment; it's just not in standard usage in the West.

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